Where We Live – in a Grass Hut

“Honey,  I want to go out dancing tonight.”     “What about the kids?”  “We can drop them off at my sisters place and they can sleep over.”     “Fantastic. What are you going to wear?”     “You know, the usual and my black beads.”

Sound familiar?  Typical young family anywhere, anytime. Family conversation has not changed much in a thousand years.  Family consumption is what has changed – a million fold. Going out dancing now requires a vast amount of supplies and an evening can cost thousands of dollars. First are the children’s pajamas, stuffed animals, story book, overnight bag, pillows, extra blanket, toothbrush and clean underwear for the morning. There are the separate but similar child safety car seats and the mini-van or sedan (value ?) and fuel (value ?) to drive the children a 1/2 mile to the sisters place. Then there are the shoes, make-up, outfit, jewelry and spending cash needed for a night on  the town. Total cost is $10,000 – $20,000 – $30,000?

How did food, shelter and clothing become so expensive? There are now 7 billion people in the world. Most will not be going out on the town tonight or tomorrow or the night after. People everywhere have been living on borrowed money and extended credit for quite a number of years. Now that the cost of goods and services has increased and available money has decreased people are  being forced to make difficult changes in lifestyle. The necessities swallow the meager allowance and social events are eliminated with the budget. Communities decline without the interaction. How did we get into this mess? Sustainability dictates the needs of the social, economic and environment be in balance. A sustainable community should also have dancing ( to balance social energy). Our current economic model is distorting the social fabric and requires change to regain sustainability. Thinking local, using renewable resources, employing barter and co-ops are all ways to help your community be sustainable. (The United Nations has designated 2012 the year of the co-op).

Honokohau   (Ho-No-Ko-Ha-u) means ‘bay drawing dew’. This portion of the Kona Coast is covered in broad rugged lava fields and some flat open areas of scattered grasses. It is a harsh dry barren land unsuitable for habitation. Kaloko Bay is the exception.

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Kaloko Bay is a large protected inlet and would have been an ideal choice when  settlement  on the Kona Coast of Hawaii first began about 900 A.D. The calm sea, shallow canoe landing, abundant marine resources, plants and flowers for food and medicine, and the materials to make fish nets and thatch for shelters at Honokohau where advantages that lead to permanent settlement by 1400. There is little fertile soil at Honokohau so agricultural methods  were adapted to grow sweet potatoes and gourds on the inland lava fields. Most food came from the ocean and the most important subsistence features developed at this settlement were  two man-made ponds and a fish trap. The fish ponds where the largest on the coast and provided a steady supply of food and revenue from economic barter. These attractive resources led to the residence of a high chief from 1490 – 1610. With the presence of royal Ali’i the community grew and supported about 200 people. The labor was now organized, resources managed, there were ceremonial activities and recreational opportunities  in the settlement. There were  resources for  food, shelter, clothing and a sustainable balance of society, economy and the environment.

Beginning in the Historic Period (1800-1900) and due to western influence the Kaloko/Honokohau community went into decline. The population was reduced by disease. The ruling chiefs relocated to the island of Oahu resulting in the lack of demand and production from the fish ponds.The demise of the whaling trade and the re-provisioning of ships  brought change to the agricultural system. Depopulation continued as the growing port towns of Kona and Kealakakua drew people away to lively urban centers. By the 1830s the coast was being deserted.   Resettlement was in the upland areas where people could grow crops and transition to the new cash based economy. Only a few homes remained by 1880 and by 1920 all was abandoned. Only the caretaker of the fish pond remained, relying on the ocean and simple agriculture for subsistence.

Ai'opio Fishtrap - 19 deg.40'74"N 156 deg.01'34.01"W

Where We Live – in a Grass Hut …..to be continued – pg 2.

About earthstonestation

promoting environmental education, protecting all species and preserving the wild places with art, music and storytelling.
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7 Responses to Honokohau

  1. Fascinating, isn’t it, how obsessed the popular culture is with the ideas of simplifying, de-cluttering, living sustainably, being ecologically responsible and responsive . . . all sorts of things that sound remarkably enticing until we’re confronted with what those things mean in *practice* and decide it’s far easier to continue our lazy slide into self-destructive surfeit. I’m no exception: it’s all grand to try to compost and recycle and reduce my power use and all of those fine things, as long as it’s not too expensive or effort-ful. I’m working to change it, but I find even my worst old habits die hard.

  2. jpgreenword says:

    If the things we buy would cost more, would we be less in debt? I know, it sounds crazy. But, if everything around us had a cost that better reflected the environmental impacts of their manufacture, transportation and disposal, those goods would cost more. And if goods did cost more, we would have to put more thought into every purchase. We would buy less goods and maybe end up spending less on “stuff”. We would also demand that our products last longer, and we would care for them more. Maybe it could even lead the sustainable manufacture of goods and a sustainable rate of purchase of goods.

  3. I am deeply impressed by the beauty of your environment. A place to dream about. Thanks for sharing your pictures and description.
    I can see why you are concerned about the future. If it is as depicted by the IPCC et al, you are vulnerable.
    But you are also in an ideal place to actually assess long term changes in the climate system, particularly in the sea level. Are you able to provide any useful information about sea level increase/decrease?
    What a shame you do not have a full scale weather station with records from say 1900 to now.
    Perhaps you are hoping that my views on planetary environmental changes turn out to be correct.

    BTW, although I live in a metropolitan area, I am striving for a country life and have facilities in the bush which enable me to regularly escape and enjoy space, nature and a clear sky at night. I have a rain water tank, solar electricity system, 1000 planted trees and great country views.

    I am interested in your source of fresh water and how you find its variability, long term.
    Regards, Ken.

  4. Yes, there’s that sneaky word again ‘sustainability’. The one big word that should be taken seriously but isn’t until the unravelling starts. Hopefully not too late.

    Thanks for starting the conversation. Good post.

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